Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 02/21/2013 06:52 | By Channel NewsAsia

SCDF could have unintentionally tipped off others before tender, court heard

SCDF could have unintentionally tipped off others before tender, court heard

SCDF could have unintentionally tipped off others before tender, court heard

SINGAPORE : Two companies could have known about the Singapore Civil Defence Force’s (SCDF) need for additional radiation detection equipment even before a tender was launched.

This was revealed on Day Three of the sex—for—contracts case involving former SCDF chief Peter Lim.

Lim is on trial for obtaining oral sex from a senior executive with Nimrod Engineering at a carpark in Stadium Walk in May 2010 — in exchange for furthering her company’s business interests with the SCDF.

Lim is accused of tipping off Nimrod Engineering about SCDF’s need for radiation detection devices before a tender was launched.

His one—time lover Pang Chor Mui was the general manager of the company at the time.

It has been established in court that Ms Pang directed her colleague to do a search for walk—through radiation portal monitors around the same time Lim asked his officers to look into acquiring more of these devices.

But it emerged in court on Wednesday that two other companies could have been tipped off unintentionally as well.

This is because the SCDF had made enquiries with them even before the tender went public on April 6 2011, as it needed to acquire more walk—through radiation portal monitors.

This followed a directive from the Home Affairs Ministry after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. The ministry had told SCDF to prepare to scan incoming passengers due to a radiation fallout from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

SCDF’s logistics director Colonel Chin Lai Fong took the stand on Wednesday and said Lim had asked his officers on March 17 to check if some of the monitors the SCDF owned could be fixed, or if new ones were needed.

Colonel Chin then contacted SECOM — SCDF’s existing vendor for these devices — to check their price and availability.

When asked why she decided to check the prices with SECOM, Colonel Chin said: "We wanted to check the market price if we decided to go for an open tender."

Another firm, IPS Securex, was invited to do a product demo.

Colonel Chin said she did not see anything wrong with arranging for the demo, as the purpose was purely exploratory and a way to assess if the equipment was suitable.

Ms Chin emphasised that she did not give either company specifics of what the SCDF needed and thus did not consider this to be insider information.

The former director of the Hazardous Materials Department, Lian Wee Teck, also said he did not think any law had been breached by these enquiries — given the urgent need for these devices.

He had already assumed a limited tender would be called.

It was Lim who later decided — on 31 March 2011 — to call an open tender, after fears of radiation contamination had eased.

This meant more companies could place bids. Both SECOM and Nimrod Engineering placed bids when the tender was launched on April 6.

Both SCDF officers defended the agency’s procurement processes and said a rigorous system of checks ensured fairness and transparency.

Decisions must be made independently by both the evaluation committees and the tender board panels.

For example, a tender cannot be awarded if even one of the three officials on a tender board does not agree with the recommendations made by the committee. Lim sat on two tender boards that gave the final approval of all tenders awarded.

The defence also revealed that Lim — before becoming commissioner — had helped formulate some of these checks and balances.

For example, Lim had come up with the idea of ensuring the various evaluation committees were well—balanced, and comprised members of departments different from the user requesting the product.

When told of this, Colonel Lian said he did not know this, but had found it to be believable as Lim was known to have a systematic and structured manner of doing things and was known to be an "analytical" man.

The trial continues.

— CNA/ms

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